from Pressure Points and Middle East Program

Christmas in Egypt

January 5, 2011

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Blog posts represent the views of CFR fellows and staff and not those of CFR, which takes no institutional positions.

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Riot police stand behind a protective wire barrier during clashes outside al-Abasseya Cathedral in Cairo. (Amr Dalsh/Courtesy Reuters)

The New Year bombing at a church in Alexandria, Egypt has now claimed twenty-three lives. “I have never seen anything of this magnitude before,” the publisher and human rights advocate Hisham Kassem said, adding that “There definitely is failure on the part of the Ministry of the Interior.”

As that Democracy Digest posting notes, it seems Egypt’s police state isn’t very good at policing. The security forces in “mukhabarat states” like Egypt, where the secret police in essence run the country (with the army standing by as the ultimate guarantor of regime survival) are there to protect the regime from the people, not to protect the people. Even when they fight terrorist groups, this is usually on behalf of regime stability rather than public safety. Egypt’s Copts are now demanding something more, and we will see on Friday—the Orthodox Christmas—whether the Egyptian police will do the job.

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